Apple’s new iPhone 3G hasn’t even been on sale for a month yet, but it’s already gotten cheaper in Japan: Carrier partner Softbank is cutting its iPhone subscription rates to as low as ¥2,990 ($27.71) a month, down from ¥7,280 ($67.47).
That should help Apple’s phone sell better, but we’re not sure they need to stimulate sales just yet — Softbank’s press release makes it sound like Japanese buyers have had a tough time finding the phone in stock in their stores; it’ll start taking reservations tomorrow.
Like in many cities, the iPhone launch drew a long line in Tokyo, but analysts have had some concerns about Apple’s short-term, mainstream prospects there: For instance, the iPhone doesn’t work with several popular local services, such as the Suica system that lets you use your phone as a smart card for subway rides/other payments.
But Japan is an important market for Apple (AAPL) to crack: Japan has about 100 million mobile subscribers who buy new phones every two years; they use a relatively high amount of mobile data services, which the iPhone should excel at; and the iPod does well there, too — an advantage over other Asian countries where Apple is at best a niche brand.
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